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Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and PoliticsThe Theologico-Political Treatise$
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Susan James

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698127.001.0001

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What Divine Law Is Not

What Divine Law Is Not

Chapter:
(p.66) Chapter 3 What Divine Law Is Not
Source:
Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics
Author(s):

Susan James

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698127.003.0004

Spinoza's theological opponents agree that the core religious teaching of the Bible is the divine law revealed by the prophets, but disagree about the law's status and content. In order to show what is superstitious in their opinions, Spinoza must confront these disputes. His first step is to establish that the divine law is universal. The claim that the law was ordained for the Jews, as the Old Testament seems to claim, thus rests on a misinterpretation. This chapter examines Spinoza's philosophical argument for this conclusion. It shows how his view threatens Calvinist providentialism, and constitutes an attack on two flourishing seventeenth‐century movements, Christian millenarianism and Jewish Messianism. The argument is therefore not merely about the proper interpretation of the Bible. It is also a theologico‐political intervention in Dutch affairs.

Keywords:   divine law, election of the Jews, universality of divine law, providentialism, messianism, millenarianism, philosophical knowledge

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